Came Up In The Drought
Name, Age, Where are you from?
Jake, 26, Los Angeles
Describe your role at Came Up in the Drought.
How did Came Up in the Drought start? What made you want to start the brand?
Drought started in my bedroom at my parent's home when I was 18.
I wanted to start Drought because I have always been drawing, making clothing, and taking images since a young age. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley which is one of the hottest parts of Los Angeles. It hardly ever rained there so our climate was/is constantly in a drought. In 2016 I began scanning old unused magazines of old advertisements I found interesting. I started to get my designs printed by this older punk rock lady who had a print shop down the street from me. At the time, I didn’t know how to sell my shirts online or get exposure. Around the corner from the print shop was my local skatepark, Pedlow, where I’d spend most of my time. I remember in the Summer of 2017 I picked up a batch of shirts, and my friends were super interested in them. I passed out a bunch of shirts and for the next few weeks, every time I went skating I would see someone wearing it.
In 2018, I went to a university where there was a print shop on campus. I learned how to screen print and continued to give out shirts to friends. I started taking images and documenting the shirts on my Pentax K1000, and in skate videos on my VX1000. I would design a graphic in the morning, and in the afternoon I’d have 12 shirts of them made. It was a super fun time.
After I graduated college in 2019, I had no job. I spent my last $500 on this membership to a print shop in Chinatown where I decided I was going to screenprint myself a collection of 5 graphic t-shirts. It was the middle of August, every day was around 100-105 degrees, and there was a 5-screen print press in the basement of this print shop. I’d be dripping sweat printing 2-3 colored graphics of 50 of each design. I fucked up the screens several times along the way.
I finally dropped the collection in September of 2019 and of all the shirts, there was one shirt that got the most attention. It was a drawing I had made of a stick figure on top of a burning cop car. I sold about all 50 of the shirts and it was the first time I felt others had a genuine interest in my work. Up until that point, there was only a couple of sales Drought had ever made. I started dropping more shirts, but as I learned, I began doing one item at a time. This way I could put more of my time and effort into making one really strong piece. However, I still needed to make a living for myself, and I really hadn’t and wasn’t making any money from Drought. Since I graduated with a degree in Media, I got a job at an advertising agency on the Adidas account. When Covid hit, we started working from home, which meant I was clocking in for my job and then working on Drought the rest of the time. Fast forward 9 months to August 2020 and the drops through Drought were paying more than my actual ‘job.’ I quit and began doing Drought full-time.
Describe your design process.
I have a studio in Downtown LA, which feels more like a playground. In one room there is an arts and crafts table set up with materials, an old tv with about 50 VHS tapes, hundreds of old magazines and random collectible items in one room, and then mood boards, and my computer set up in another room. Usually, I have an idea of something I want to make, whether it be a piece of jewelry, a garment, or an ashtray - whatever it is, I’ll engage with all the content I have, from reading, viewing, and listening until something strikes a chord. Most of the time, a concept will coincide perfectly with the item that I want to make.
Much of your brand seems to be focused on early internet culture, why is that era so appealing to you?
I grew up as the internet was developing. I remember my grandmother getting my sister and I a home computer, which was one of those box monitors and loud processors. It was one of my earliest memories of freedom. I used to build my own websites on Piczo, browse Ebaumsworld, run Club Penguin servers, download songs off LimeWire (and buy songs off iTunes). I did a lot of shit on the internet in its early form, and I feel like all we have left of it are memories and screenshots. It’s basically impossible to experience the web like that anymore. I want to memorialize my favorite moments and memories of that time through Drought. It’s more than just about the aesthetics though. It’s about capturing that sense of childhood, and the feelings associated with it.
What’s your favorite video game from your childhood?
Call of Duty, MW2.
Tell us about the web surfer bracelet, what was the inspiration behind that?
I had learned Internet Explorer was being discontinued about 8 months before June 16th. I wanted to properly memorialize the browser, as it was the first browser I had ever used and explored the internet with. I wanted to create a bracelet that told a story. Each icon was so impactful to the early days of the internet.
What is your favorite piece you have made for the brand?
I honestly have no favorites, even when an item is fully finished and dropped I always feel like I could have done better. I’m always trying to improve the next drop from the last.
Who is the typical Drought customer?
The average Drought customer has an awareness of what they're inspired by or an awareness of what they like. Maybe they like a similar set of artists or games as I do or they grew up at the same time of the internet as I did. They want to remember where they came from and I think this brand like this is almost a visual log of that time period if that makes sense.
What's next for the brand?
Improved quality items, licensed collaborations, a pop-up, some stuff I can't say, and some stuff you'll have to wait to see.
What are some of your ultimate career goals?
Drought is a reflection of consumer culture, it aims to create a commentary and a dialog. The goal is to create something that can spark a conversation between two strangers.
Keep up with Drought on Instagram @cameupinthedrought
Interview by Evan Heiges Photos by Sean Defaria
Leave a comment